Stories » Richard Reed Parry - Music for Heart and Breath / WQXR: Q2 Album of the Week

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Richard Reed Parry - Music for Heart and Breath / WQXR: Q2 Album of the Week

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Richard Reed Parry, a composer and multi-instrumentalist best known as a member of the rock band Arcade Fire, has gradually been building up a body of classical compositions based on a simple concept: the music is driven not by a shared rhythmic pulse, such as the beat of a conductor or a metronome, but by the actual pulse of the performers themselves, who listen to their own heartbeats while playing; the phrasing is determined not by the barlines but queued by the performers' breaths.

Parry's Music for Heart and Breath is out on Deutsche Grammophon, a 116-year-old record label that, between this release and their release earlier this year of classical music by rock guitarists Bryce Dessner (The National) and Jonny Greenwood (Radiohead), seems to have gotten awfully hip in a big hurry. Certainly, the performers gathered for these sessions are about the hippest that the new-music world has to offer: Parry himself, of course; Bryce Dessner and his brother Aaron, both of The National; the wildly flexible sextet yMusic; the Kronos Quartet; and performer/composers Caroline Shaw and Nico Muhly. Richard Reed Parry's Music for Heart and Breath is New York: WQXR's Q2 'Album of the week.'